The quality and accessibility of healthcare plays a crucial role in preventing and mitigating health problems. A study conducted in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city of 9 million residents, showed that people living in the city’s established and new urban areas have access to better-quality and better-accessible healthcare than people living in the suburban areas. According to the researchers, digital healthcare, road improvements and better urban planning could be used to promote more equal healthcare in a cost-effective manner.
Conducted by the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Social Sciences and Humanities – Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City, and the Ho Chi Minh City Institute for Development Studies, the study showed that nearly 1.2 million people in Ho Chi Minh City live in deficiently served areas in terms of healthcare. Their travel time to the nearest hospital is more than 30 minutes, and more than 15 minutes to the nearest clinic.
Published in BMC Health Services Research, the study utilised data from public registers on hospitals, health clinics, streets, roads, population, and healthcare quality. The researchers analysed the quality and accessibility of healthcare and, relying on international studies, they also examined the opportunities of digital healthcare to improve the provision of services.
In Ho Chi Minh City, healthcare services are provided by public and private hospitals and clinics. Some hospitals are focused on specialised medical care, while clinics typically provide primary and emergency care. In the city’s new developing urban areas, healthcare facilities have been built in cooperation with private sector developers, thus aiming to improve their accessibility. In suburban areas in the outskirts of the city, however, sporadic demand and small market for healthcare have led to its poor quality and poor accessibility.
“This is a shortcoming that requires action and new solutions. Our study links digital healthcare solutions to the planning of healthcare and urban development, while also providing an example and tools for planning a more equal system of digital and physical healthcare also elsewhere,” says Researcher Khanh Hung Le of Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City.
The researchers recommended prompt adoption and development of digital healthcare services by hospitals and clinics capable of doing so, while also setting an example for others.
“Ho Chi Minh City has set the digitalisation of healthcare as a goal in its digital transformation programme for 2030,” Researcher Thi Xuan Phuong La of HCMC Institute for Development Studies notes.
“Remote clinics, self-monitoring, remote monitoring and healthcare applications should be developed in order to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare services, for example in situations where the demand for healthcare services is sporadic and the supply does not adequately meet the demand. The development of remote healthcare services would also reduce the need for travel,” says Professor Markku Tykkyläinen of the University of Eastern Finland.
BMC Health Services Research
Service quality and accessibility of healthcare facilities: digital healthcare potential in Ho Chi Minh City.
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